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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2004 INTERVIEW: Neil Young | Details Magazine

Neil Young - 2004
"Geronimo - My Heroes have always Killed Cowboys" T-shirt
(Click photo to enlarge)

As Neil Young's 2017 sabbatical continues, we've been plowing deep into the Thrasher's Wheat Archives Vaults.

Here's a March 2004 interview with Neil Young from Details Magazine [defunct publication]:
Q: What's your advice to anyone who's stuck in a rut?

Neil Young: Change things. Try not to hurt people, but if you have to, be honest. Say: "I can't do this anymore. I've got to make some changes. I'll be back."

Q: But when one of your weird creative impulses strikes, you must take some flak from people...

A: Yeah, but what do they know? They know nothing. They don't even know what the hell the idea is. They weren't there when it happened. They have nothing to say.

Q: Your father made a living as a writer. What did you learn from him?

A: He told me if I ever thought I didn't have anything to write, to just sit down and see what happened, see what came out, and not judge it. Don't edit. Just write. Forget editing. He was a real gentle guy; he still is.

Q: You seem pretty reluctant to edit stuff yourself. Take that song on Greendale, "Bandit": I don't think I've ever heard a guitar string rattle that much on a contemporary record.

A: Oh, yeah! And a dickhead engineer might spend four hours trying to get rid of that. By the time he got finished, the artist trying to sing the song would be totally asleep and the whole fuckin' moment would've passed. I personally went out of my way to get that thing to rattle as much as it did. It rattles like hell! I sang that in a little box, like a six-by-ten-by-six box, completely closed in, with a plexiglass wall so the sound had nowhere to go. That's why it sounds so claustrophobic. If you turn it up real loud, that fucker really is rocking.

Q: When you're writing songs, is there something you need to get going? Coffee? Cigarettes?

A: Nope.

Q: Walk in the woods? Plate of bacon and eggs?

A: Nothin'.

Q: How about when you're sick?

A: It works better. I don't know why.

Q: I came across an old story that said you wrote "Cinnamon Girl, "' "Down by the River," and "Cowgirl in the Sand" in one day in 1969 when you were knocked out with the flu.

A: One afternoon. Yeah. I was sick. I had a fever. Sittin' in bed, in Topanga Canyon. I think it's because when you're sick you don't spend a lot of time trying to put up a front. You're just being who you are.

Q: What kind of animals do you have on your ranch in Northern California?

A: Well, it's not like Neverland or anything. We just have horses, cows. We don't have a giraffe, we don't have a preschool group. We had some emus for a while. They were pretty cool.

Q: What does an emu do?

A: Not much. But when it comes towards you, the ground shakes.

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At 4/13/2017 03:33:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Funny little bit of an interview there, Thrasher.......Neil sounds real grumpy, just the way I like him.

Neil and his emus......must have been quite a sight, ha ha!

At 4/13/2017 04:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We don't have a giraffe, we don't have a preschool group. We had some emus for a while".

Neil had a lot of rock 'n' roll in him around the time of Greendale. Why? Because he was playing with Crazy Horse (as a trio), and with Poncho Sampedro on the then recent tours. And I'm sure this was another period where he'd say "Briggs was there in spirit".

I know I keep on about it a lot, but it's for good reason. These guys really do bring out the best in him. If you want to hear his most vividly alive records, you know what names to look for in the album credits. Note too that Briggs gets a special thanks on Peace Trail.

I maintain that Greendale is one of his best albums. Perhaps the definitive Neil Young album, and his last real masterpiece. So far.


At 4/13/2017 08:48:00 AM, Blogger Shakey said...

Reading this, I have another theory about Neil's "illness". He acknowledged that songwriting always works better when he's sick. Might it be that he was sick and it led to him following that muse yet again. And this time Pearl Jam's Hall of Fame induction was left to eat a peach. Here's to hoping.

At 4/13/2017 10:19:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

At last, I got some insight on the rattling string in the song Bandit from Greendale. I never heard such a cool sound like that. It really worked well with the tone of the song. Every time I would listen to it I would wonder how he did that. That song and the whole album is truly a masterpeice.


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